Panther nine advances in NESCAC postseason
MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury College baseball team defeated visiting Tufts, 13-1, on Sunday in the decisive third game of the teams’ NESCAC quarterfinal series and advanced to the league’s final four at Trinity College this weekend.
The teams split games on Saturday, the Panthers winning the opener, 4-3, and the Jumbos slugging their way to a 22-9 victory in the second game
Middlebury, whose record stands at 26-11, will take on Amherst (16-16-1) at 6 p.m. on Friday in the first of the four-team double-elimination final four at Trinity. Bowdoin (16-19) and Colby (23-11) face each other at 2:30 p.m., and games will follow on Saturday and Sunday to determine the NESCAC champion and the league’s representative in the NCAA Division III tournament.
In this past Sunday’s decisive quarterfinal vs. 24-12 Tufts, the Panthers gradually pulled away. Alec Ritch pitched six innings of one-run ball, allowing six hits and fanning six; Cole Crider and George Goldstein completed a strong day on the mound for Middlebury.
The Panthers got two runs in the second inning on a single from Nathan Samii, a Chris Borter double, an Andrew Ashley single, and a groundout from Zip Malley, whose walkoff single had given them the series-opening victory.
Two walks, a wild pitch and a Jack Stolper sacrifice fly made it 3-1 in the third after the Jumbos scratched out a run in the top of the inning.
In the third, the Panthers scored three on a Beau Root RBI grounder, a walk to Ritch, a John Collins RBI single and an error. When Ritch scored he became the program’s single-season leader with 45 runs.
In the sixth, Collins deposited a hanging curve far over the left-field fence to make it 7-1; it was his league-best 12th homer. Stolper homered in the seventh, when Borter also singled in a run and Ritch hit a sac fly to make it 10-1. Middlebury wrapped added runs in the eighth, when Malley doubled home a pair and another scored on a Borter grounder.
Borter finished with four hits and scored three runs, Samii and Root had two hits apiece, and Malley’s three RBI were a career high. The Panthers pushed their D-III best stolen base total to 154 with eight steals.
On Saturday, the Panthers won the opener, 4-3, when Malley dumped a two-out, ninth-inning RBI single into right center to plate Sammy Smith, who had singled and moved to second on a Stolper sac bunt. Goldstein (3-1) earned the win, tossing the final 2.2 innings and allowing one hit while whiffing five.
Middlebury took a 2-0 lead in the second when Stolper homered after Ashley singled. Miles Reid homered off starting pitcher Alex Price to make it 2-1 in the fourth, while Smith homered to restore the two-run lead in the bottom of the inning.
Tufts tied the game in the sixth on a solo homer by Connor Flavin and an RBI double by Ben Leonard. Cameron Mayer took the loss allowing four runs on nine hits with 13 strikeouts in 8.2 innings.
In Saturday’s second game, the Jumbos scored nine runs in the first inning off losing pitcher Alex Rosario (6-3) and Andrew Gatland, and added two more in the third, blasting three home runs in the process.
The Panthers scored eight in the third inning to make it 11-8, but the Jumbos roughed up a series of Middlebury relievers and pulled away to win by 22-9 and force Sunday’s decisive game.
Samii (two hits, four RBIs) and Collins (five hits) homered for the Panthers, and Ritch drilled a two-run double.
Peter DeMaria led Tufts with four hits, including a double and one of four Tufts homers, while driving in three runs and scored three times. Patrick Solomon added three hits and scored three runs, while driving in three. Connor Podeszwa (5-3) earned the win in relief, giving up one run over six innings.
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